By Kamal Morarka
Two years have passed since this government came to power. They are celebrating it on a grand scale as would be expected, but let us take an objective view. An objective view would suggest that as far as administration is concerned, it is average, five on ten. The problem with this government is that they had raised the expectations so high during the election process that people who supported them and put them in to power are a disappointed lot, take any section of society.
First, let us take the youth and the unemployed who were told that jobs will be created in lakhs and everybody would get employment. That definitely has not happened. People who are in the corporate sector or bureaucracy understand that these things cannot be done in a day, but the way it was projected during the elections the youth are definitely disillusioned now.
Secondly, take the poorer section of the people, the really poor or the marginal farmers or the landless laborers; they have nothing to cheer about. Yes, there are lot of good schemes and lot of good intention, but nothing on ground really took off. The schemes announced by them are good, and over the year if implemented properly will do good to the country, but immediate results are difficult to see.
Thirdly, take the corporate sector. The sentiment of corporate sector has not become positive, which is due to the multiplicity of factors. There is recession in Europe. American economy is not in bullish phase. But in Indian conditions, Indian corporate can do much better. The reason is that whoever is making the policies in the government is not taking a holistic view.
On the one hand we want more investment, we want foreign investment to come in, we want Indian industrialists to put manufacturing units and we want growth, on the other hand your laws and procedure is such that even an established man like Vijay Mallya who is also an MP – first with the help of the Congress and then by the BJP – has to flee the country. That is not a very good sign for stability of rule of law. By all means deal firmly with errant loan takers, tax avoiders. Take actions, but actions should be civilized actions within the four corners of the law. A fright that they will be put into prison and without any recourse will not do any good. Even in the case of Subrata Roy who has been in jail for two years does not augur well for an onlooker who is setting outside; Indians are used to lot of these things, but fear psychosis certainly does not help industry.
What can the government do? For one thing what they should do is make massive investment in the public sector. There are countries like the UK and the US where public investment crowds out private investment. But then there are countries like India where public investment crowds in private investment. That has been the story always. It is all right to go on criticizing Jawaharlal Nehru, public sector and corruption, though these are all jingoism. The fact remains that today in defence sector they have decided that instead of importing armaments, we should manufacture our own. Very good idea! Why does not the government, which has the money, which has the expertise, which has got the wherewithal, put large plants to manufacture equipment of your own need?
Of course there is the problem. The problem is the BJP is the party of right. All along they have been saying that government should not do business. It is not the business of the government to do business. All these phrases look all right, but the fact remain that today if Narendra Modi wants to make “Make in India” successful, the one thing he must do (he has still got three years in hand) in next one year make massive investment in industry. If private sector comes in, it’s fine, otherwise the government should do it on its own and large scale employment will be created, the confidence will come back into the economy. And once the government starts putting up money, private sector will also put in money. Two things are required urgently: One is the fear factor should be removed and second the government must invest large money. That is my prescription in succeeding in what you have promised.
Now, let us take the opposition. Unfortunately the Congress party, the main opposition party and still the most widespread political party in India, has become demoralized which is not a good thing for a political party. Certainly getting only 45 seats in the Lok Sabha is bad, but there was a time the BJP has only two seats in the Lok Sabha. So one election does not make any difference, you have to work for the next election. Unfortunately the Congress has lost the momentum and it looks like that they have lost the will which not a good thing. Just now five states went for elections. The Congress and the BJP had no stake in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal; in Kerala UDF and LDF alternate power, so there is no surprise in Kerala. The only place was Assam where the Congress was ruling for 15 years. Just because they have lost one elections and in that also the Congress has got 31 percent of popular vote and the BJP has got 29 percent. It is only because of the Assam Gana Parishad that they could muster up a coalition. Things are not all that rosy for the BJP as their leaders are shouting from the roof-top. Certainly things are not as gloomy for the Congress as they have come to believe. However they must decide who the leader is? If Rahul Gandhi wants, then only he should take the party ahead. Otherwise he should hand over the beacon to somebody as the working president. If the Congress start working from now, their performance would not be as bad as they think in 2019.
Then come the media. Unfortunately the biggest let down is neither the NDA government nor the Congress opposition, it is the media. Take these elections in five states. Media is talking as if the whole country is going to the BJP. What has gone to the BJP? One state of Assam! I can understand that the BJP people thinking that Assam is Uttar Pradesh. Assam sends 14 MPs to the Lok Sabha, they certainly think that now they have won Assam they have won 2019. You need 272, you have got 14 and another 258 will come. What kind of joke is this? But the media, except a few article here and there for which I must praise those individuals and those newspapers they have analytically put the problem. To most of the media it just go by the jingo. It is not good at all. Media is the bulwark of democracy in any country. If media does not help, democracy can go astray in no time. Media and judiciary are the two pillars other than legislature and executive which can keep control. Unfortunately even judiciary behaves in a manner which we cannot explain and the press is in very-very sad state. Of course everything revolves around money, electronic media need money; print media need advertisement. All these problems are there but in journalism there should be semblance of mission. It cannot be all-commerce. Otherwise the whole purpose of the press will be lost. Let us hope things will be improved.
By Kamal Morarka